Cuban Protestant pastor Reverend Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo was tried on 20 and 21 December, in connection with his participation in nationwide peaceful protests which took place on 11 July.
His wife, Ms. Maridilegnis Carballo, described the proceedings as “two days in which the truth did not prevail.”
The pastor, who is the leader of Monte de Sion Independent Church in Palma Soriano, was tried alongside other protesters. The prosecution claimed that Reverend Rosales Fajardo and the other defendants were instrumental in inciting fellow civilians to violently attack police officials.
According to reports from independent journalist Yoe Suárez, the Public Prosecutor’s office was permitted to call 17 witnesses to testify against the accused, while Pastor Rosales Fajardo’s lawyer was able to bring only two witnesses, and only one family member was able to observe the proceedings.
Ms Carballo described the trial as a “show” in which the prosecution portrayed the protesters’ peaceful actions as criminal and blamed them for violence, saying: “There is no concrete proof of any of these crimes.”
When the trial concluded on 21 December, the defendants were informed that they will be sentenced on 5 January 2022.
Reverend Rosales Fajardo was arrested after participating in peaceful protests that took place across the island on 11 July. An eyewitness photographed the pastor being held in a chokehold by a uniformed member of the Black Berets, a Cuban paramilitary force responsible for serious human rights violations, at his arrest.
He has been imprisoned in Boniato Maximum Security Prison since August, and is facing charges which include ‘disrespect’, ‘assault’, ‘criminal incitement’ and ‘public disorder,’ for which the government has previously indicated that they are seeking to impose a 10-year prison sentence.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “The charges against Reverend Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo and his fellow protesters are unfounded, and their trial is unjust. The Cuban government’s actions are a cynical attempt to make an example of those who marched peacefully in a spontaneous national movement calling for accountability from the Cuban government, and for the defense of human rights. CSW is deeply concerned at the heavy sentence being sought by the prosecution. We urge the international community to maintain scrutiny of these proceedings and to renew calls for the release of these protesters, who have no case to answer.”